'Highly unlikely' action will be taken against Twitter Joke Trial tweets

Struan Robertson on the Twitter Joke Trial
Struan Robertson on the Twitter Joke Trial

TechRadar has spoken to Struan Robertson, editor of Out-Law.com and Legal Director of Pinsent Masons LLP, about the Twitter Joke Trial and he believes that it is unlikely those repeating Paul Chamber's original 'terrorist' tweet will face prosecution.

At the time of writing this, the current top trending topic in the UK is #IAmSpartacus, a hashtag that thousands of users have applied to Paul Chamber's original tweet, which landed him with a criminal record this week.

Robertson explained to TechRadar that "It's highly unlikely that action will be taken against those repeating what Chambers tweeted.

"While lots of people saw Chambers's original tweet as a joke that, at worst, was in bad taste, the prosecutor and the judge clearly didn't. They saw it as criminally menacing.

Big payout

Robertson continued: "I can't see a prosecutor taking action over the retweeters, though. Aside from the profile of this protest, the retweeters arguably make clear their satirical intent by using the Spartacus hashtag."

The Out-Law.com editor does warn, however, that those using the hashtag aren't completely safe from the law, saying: "It's worth noting that you don't avoid responsibility for a message just because you're repeating what somebody else said.

"A person who retweets a libellous message could themselves be sued for libel – and if they have more followers than the original author, they could be facing the bigger payout."

This may be food for thought for all the celebrities who have jumped on the Twitter Joke Trial bandwagon.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.